APA's Council of Representatives voted overwhelmingly at its February meeting to create a companion organization that would be able to spend unlimited funds on advocacy on behalf of professional psychology.
APA is currently classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization, which requires that the association spend no more than $1 million a year on lobbying activities. The new (c)(6) organization would have no such limits.
The move--one that has become increasingly common in the association world--will not change APA's day-to-day functions. According to APA officials, the organization will merely create a mechanism that will allow APA to do more lobbying without jeopardizing the association's tax status.
"The creation of the Section 501(c)(6) companion organization is mostly a legal and accounting process and it will actually not be highly visible to members nor will it result in significant changes in the everyday APA as we know it," says APA acting Chief Executive Officer L. Michael Honaker, PhD. "We are advised that other organizations that have made similar steps have rarely experienced any disruptions and that members hardly notice."
While some members have asked whether the companion organization will benefit practitioners at the expense of other APA constituents, such as scientists, Honaker says it definitely will not. In fact, he says, it will even benefit other groups.
"All of the funds that will be used by the companion organization come from the special assessment, which is a resource that is already only being used by practice," he explains. "There will be no reduction in the projects of interest to other constituents or the dollars available for those projects. Groups like science will actually benefit. For example, the transfer of practice lobby expenses to the companion organization will mean that APA may spend more on lobbying science issues, whenever that is necessary, without taking the risk of exceeding the legal limits on how much lobbying APA may do."
In other action, the council:
Allocated $25,000 to support the Decade of Behavior (DoB) initiative. The DoB, 200010, is a broad-based effort to focus the talents, energy and creativity of the behavioral and social sciences on many of society's most significant challenges, from health care and drug abuse to racism and poverty. The DoB would be an umbrella under which scientific societies and universities could conduct public awareness campaigns, town meetings, community lectures and other activities to ensure that relevant research is brought into the public debate.
Established a commission to recommend ways to modify the sequence and content of psychology education, training and licensure and ensure the marketability of psychology doctoral graduates. (See cover story, page 20.)
Approved a set of guidelines for psychotherapy with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. The guidelines, which were reviewed and supported by approximately 15 APA boards and governance groups and passed the APA Council nearly unanimously, are designed to provide advice and information for mental health providers but do not mandate treatment standards for psychotherapy with gay, lesbian and bisexual people. The need for guidelines on psychotherapy services for this population was well documented in a survey published by APA in 1991. The survey found that while many psychologists demonstrated knowledge of and sensitivity to the concerns of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, there was also strong evidence of incidents of biased and inappropriate care. To obtain a copy of the guidelines, contact Clinton Anderson at (202) 336-6037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approved a petition for a new APA division, the American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy (Div. 55). The division will hold candidacy status for two years, during which time they will have all rights and privileges of a permanent APA division. In 2002, the council will review the division's activities and vote on whether to make it permanent.
Allocated $20,000 for site visits to states that need assistance in moving their prescription-privileges agenda forward. Last year, council allocated $20,100 which supported visits to Florida, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Allocated $10,000 a year for three years for the interdivisional grants project. In the last three years, a trial run of this project has supported several key projects, including "A Curriculum for Training in Domestic Violence," an initiative of Divs. 43 (Family), 35 (Women), 44 (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues), 45 (Ethnic Minority Affairs) and 51 (Men and Masculinity), and "A Curriculum for Psychology in Primary Care," a project of Divs. 43, 38 (Health), 42 (Independent Practice) and 12 (Clinical), Section V (Pediatric).
Received the five-year report of APA's Policy and Planning Board and the Blue Ribbon Panel. The report, dubbed the "Governance Renaissance Plan," detailed ways in which the growth of governance has increased association expenses and staff workloads. The panel recommended ways that governance could better prioritize the issues and work of APA's boards and committees. The full text of the report will appear in an upcoming issue of American Psychologist.
Affirmed that the field urgently needs licensure reciprocity and other mechanisms to enable practitioners to move from state to state. The council directed APA's Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and Board of Professional Affairs to work with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards to present a plan to achieve this goal at the August council meeting.
Endorsed an amendment to APA's Bylaws and Association Rules to change the term "dues-exempt" to "life member." The change was recommended because dues-exempt members are actually charged a service fee. This amendment will now be sent to members for their vote later this year.
Removed language from the Association Rules that had prevented liaisons and observers of APA's Council of Representatives from being reimbursed by APA for their attendance at council.